The Audacity program is an example of a digital 'audio editor', which means that Audacity can record and edit audio in common digital formats. Typically, one uses Audacity for recording sounds such as interviews or musical instruments. You can then use Audacity to combine these sounds and edit them to make documentaries, music, podcasts, etc.
In the old days, audio editing was done with huge machines that recorded sound to magnetic tape (similar to the tape in tape cassettes).
Audio engineers would then edit these tapes using razor blades and sticky tape. Much of the jargon used in audio editing today comes from this process. Making a "cut" meant literally cutting the audio tape at a certain point. "Multitrack" referred to recording many separate sounds onto extra wide tape to fit more 'tracks'. The recording industry still uses these terms, along with many others, today. Many of the fundamental techniques which formed good audio recording and editing practices in the audio-tape era laid the foundation for recording and editing software.
While many of the terms and techniques remain the same today, computers replaced tape machines, and digital files succeeded tapes. Hence, one records audio and edits with a computer (using software like Audacity), and stores these sounds in files on a computer. This makes the process much faster and requires a lot less physical storage space and specialized skills and equipment.
Audacity is a powerful tool for recording and editing audio on a home computer. It's is a very sophisticated program and can do everything one would expect from a modern audio editor. As a free, open-source tool, Audacity is not quite as feature-rich as some expensive audio editing software used by professional recording studios, but more and more independent musicians (as well as podcasters and others) are using it in their own audio creations.
One can install and run Audacity on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.
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